Bill Jamieson, 'titan' of Scottish journalism, dies

He was a giant of Scottish journalism who predicted the last recession months before it occurred, winning a string of awards for his insightful and passionate insights into both economics and politics.

Former Scotsman executive editor Bill Jamieson has died.
Former Scotsman executive editor Bill Jamieson has died.

Bill Jamieson, former executive editor of The Scotsman, has died, aged 75.

Tributes have poured in for the journalist, author and public speaker, who previously described himself as a “newspaperman to the core” and listed his interests in society bible Who’s Who as “reading other people’s newspapers”.

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Born in Ayrshire, Mr Jamieson started out as a sub editor on the Merthyr Express in south Wales. He worked as a business sub-editor on the Western Mail in Cardiff before moving to London in the early 1970s as a business reporter with Thomson Regional Newspapers.

Among other roles he also worked on the 1986 launch of Britain’s first all-colour newspaper Today. He took up his position at The Scotsman in 2000.

In 2009, Mr Jamieson won Business Journalist of the Year and overall Journalist of the Year in the Scottish Press Awards following his extensive coverage of the recession and subsequent economic recovery - which he predicted months before it happened.

He also collected Campaign of the Year Award for The Scotsman for its series of articles on the Lloyds-HBOS merger.

His Scotsman columns, which he continued to write up until August of this year, were much-loved and well-read, ranging in topics from deep insights into Scottish politics and economic issues to entertaining diatribes about his garden and his much-loved pet cats.

His son, Alastair Jamieson, himself a former Scotsman journalist who now works at The Independent, described his father as “talented, kind and generous”.

He said: “He was a life-long and respected journalist. Covid cruelly stole our final days with him.

"We were only allowed to visit him, for the first time in two weeks, on Friday and he died, alone, in the early hours of Saturday. Like so many, he did not die from coronavirus, but it caused a lot of pain.”

Mr Jamieson’s wife, Elaine, said: “He was a lovely, clever man who led a very interesting life and it is clear that he was held in great esteem by those who knew him and worked with him. He’s already missed.”

Before joining The Scotsman, Mr Jamieson was Economics Editor of The Sunday Telegraph for seven years, where he broke the story of the collapse of Barings Bank in 1995.

He also wrote a number of books on economics and politics including ‘An Illustrated Guide to the British Economy’ and ‘Scotland’s Ten Tomorrows: The Devolution Crisis’.

Former colleagues paid tribute to a “brilliant journalist and wonderful person”.

Ian Stewart, who was editor of The Scotsman until 2017, said: “Bill Jamieson was the most respected and read business commentator in Scotland for many years, and rightly so.

“He knew everyone, and they trusted him because he was a man of integrity, honesty and wisdom. He was a great reader of situations. I will never forget him in editorial conferences, accurately predicting the financial crisis about a year before it happened.”

He added: “He was also a great colleague, a reliable sounding board for editorial judgement, and was unfailingly helpful and considerate. He was also a man with a huge sense of fun with a frequent laugh that cheered up the newsroom. He will indeed be sadly missed.”

Former Scotsman editor John McLellan said: “So desperately sad to hear about the passing of Bill Jamieson, a true great of The Scotsman and Scottish journalism with whom it was a joy to work every single day of my time there.”

Broadcaster and former Scotsman executive Andrew Neil said: “Bill Jamieson was a brilliant journalist and a wonderful person. He was a joy to work with, as we did for many years at The Scotsman. His columns were essential reading.”

Business journalist Erikka Askeland worked with Mr Jamieson at The Scotsman in the late 2000s.

She said: “Before I ever met Bill, he had a reputation for being a lion in the jungle of British journalism, a giant bestriding Scotland’s civic life like a colossus. What I found when I did meet him was a man of great warmth and kindness, which made him even more impressive.

"As I jumped into the deep end of daily deadlines, impostor syndrome and a global banking crisis, his wit and willingness to share the benefit of his wisdom was a lifeline to me.”

Eamonn Butler, director of the Adam Smith Institute, said: “He was a cheery (and cheeky) iconoclast, an unfailingly generous and kind ally to me and other friends over many years.”

Economic research unit The Fraser of Allander Institute wrote on Twitter: “We’re sad to hear of the passing of Bill Jamieson, a key commentator on the Scottish economy for decades. His insight, knowledge and wit will be much missed.”

Politicians also joined in paying tributes to Mr Jamieson.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “Bill was a titan of Scottish journalism whose legacy lives on.”

MP Stuart McDonald added: “Sad news. The first ever political hustings I went to was a debate organised by The Scotsman in the Mitchell Library, with Nicola Sturgeon, Bristow Muldoon and Bill Aitken on the panel, and Bill Jamieson in the chair. Condolences to Bill’s loved ones.”

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